Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Cool Hand is Dead

In the 1967 film "Cool Hand Luke," Paul Newman became the first star of a major studio picture to successfully cross over from the ranks of Hollywood leading men to hero of the counter-culture. Beating "The Graduate" into theaters by two months, and "Easy Rider" by two years, Newman's character is so authority-averse that he endures savage beatings in prison simply because he refuses to knuckle under. There was more than just this charactor about Newman though. He was a good guy.

This morning I learned of his death last night at the age of 83.

In addition to the bluest eyes that ever lit up a movie screen, he was co-founder of one of America's most successful independent food companies — Newman's Own, which began with salad dressing and microwave popcorn, and rapidly expanded into organic foods. (I particularly love the cookies)! He was also one of America's top philanthropists, donating all of the more than $220 million in profits from Newman's Own to charities.

Newman was a regular along pit lane at the San Jose Grand Prix as co-owner of the Newman/Haas/Lanigan racing team, and he was a successful race car driver himself for nearly two decades. Car racing is really not my thing, but it was a big part of who he was.

Thank you Paul Newman for the entertainment and the social awareness and for all of your many contributions to this world. Rest in peace.

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